We get the question “Is the (insert gun name here) a good gun or a bad gun?” a lot. Typically our answer is, “What do you want to use it for?” and so long as the reply to that question is not “Shooting” or something as generic, then we give them an answer with as much heartfelt truth as possible. In the case of the S&W 22A, my normal reply is “Both”.
You see, the 22A is one of those good and bad guns regardless of what you want to use it for. It’s pretty easy to disassemble and clean, pretty accurate for plinking and a little low-level competition, moderately priced (even for a S&W) and reliable enough to not expect jamming, so long as it has been cleaned. This gun is fun to shoot.
The problems, however, are just as numerous. We don’t like the whole plastic, toy-like feel and design of the gun. The trigger isn’t good at all (VERY surprising for a S&W) and we just cannot stress how badly it performs when dirty – misfires, stove-piping, weird and inconsistent shots were common after a few hundred rounds. Keep in mind also that the large frame of this gun makes it very uncomfortable for smaller-handed shooters to operate it comfortably.
When the gun is clean, the accuracy isn’t too bad – we got 1.25” groups at 25 feet. Accuracy in a “soiled” state, well, we’re surprised we even hit the paper. The adjustable sights (a plus) are just okay, but this gun was clearly made to have an optic mounted on it (the one we shot did not). We also feel that despite the plasticized look and feel, the larger frame did fit our hand nicely as well as everyone else who shot it in our group–large and small hands alike.
The Smith & Wesson 22A is not a terrible gun, but it’s not a great gun either. It’s good for a beginner, but not good for a competition shooter. Good for plinking and practice? Good enough.